The night before Nashville's Big Bash New Year's Eve Celebration on CBS, three performers have dropped out, with COVID-19 safety protocols cited as the reason. Sam Hunt, Zac Brown Band and Elle King won't be playing the show at Bicentennial Mall on Friday (Dec. 31). Lady A will take the stage instead.

Of the trio of artists that bowed out, only Zac Brown Band offered further explanation on social media. Frontman Zac Brown shared that he'd tested positive for COVID-19, despite taking precautions. This is the second time since September he's tested positive. The first time forced the group to postpone several tour stops.

Dierks Bentley remains the headliner for this inaugural event, with Ingrid Andress and Breland still on tap to play the main stage. Additionally, a second free stage at Skydeck on Broadway at Assembly Food Hall will feature acts including Riley Green, Chris JansonCarly Pearce and more. About 50 performances are set to be featured during the five-hour concert, although many were pre-taped and won't be available to the public.

Gates for the show open at 4:30 PM, and while it's free, fans must show a negative COVID-19 test from either Dec. 30 or Dec. 31, or their COVID-19 vaccination card (per Billboard).

Of his set, Bentley says he plans to capture the spirit of New Year's Eve. He also hopes for surprises.

"I've looked around to see who else is also playing on the stage with me, and there's some great artists there. So if they're hanging around, we're definitely going to be pulling people up and trying to make it great,” he shares. “I really want to make it special for all the Nashville people, all the people that traveled to Nashville just for this one-time event. Collaborations are the king of that, that's what makes shows unique and special.” 

Top Country Songs of 2021, Ranked

You'll find much more than just the Top 10 Country Songs of 2021 on this list. Enjoy the 21 best country songs of the year, based on Taste of Country staff and country music fan opinion, plus commercial data (sales, streaming, airplay).

To be considered, the song must have been released in 2021 or have actively charted for a portion of the year (see "Wine, Beer, Whiskey"). New artists including Lainey Wilson, Larry Fleet and Morgan Wade crack the top songs list, while hitmakers including Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Luke Combs make the Top 10.

Let us know your favorite song of 2021 on Twitter, or email us at staff@tasteofcountry.com.